In this mesmerizing Hubble Picture of the Week, a tapestry of spiral galaxies unfolds. The dominant presence on the right is NGC 1356, flanked by seemingly smaller spiral galaxies—LEDA 467699 above and LEDA 95415 at its left. Completing the cosmic ensemble is IC 1947 along the left side of the image.
This celestial snapshot offers a fascinating illustration of the challenge in discerning whether galaxies are truly in close proximity or merely appear so from Earth’s perspective. At first glance, NGC 1356, LEDA 467699, and LEDA 95415 may seem like close companions, while IC 1947 appears more distant. However, the image’s two-dimensional nature only hints at angular separation—how objects are spread across the night sky’s sphere. It cannot convey the true distance of these celestial entities from Earth.
Delving into the cosmic distances, the apparent proximity of NGC 1356 and LEDA 95415 in the image is deceiving. Despite their appearance of interaction, NGC 1356 is situated around 550 million light-years from Earth, while LEDA 95415 resides roughly 840 million light-years away—a staggering separation of nearly 300 million light-years. This vast distance implies that LEDA 95415 is likely not as diminutive in size compared to NGC 1356 as the image might suggest.
Contrastingly, the seemingly distant pair of NGC 1356 and IC 1947 is a cosmic illusion. While the angular separation appears substantial, IC 1947 is only approximately 500 million light-years from Earth. In three-dimensional space, their proximity is much more intimate, with a calculated distance of less than four hundred thousand light-years.
This cosmic dance unfolds in the image, featuring a collection of galaxies, with a large spiral galaxy on the left side, flanked by two smaller spirals and another round spiral galaxy on the right. A single bright star and various distant galaxies punctuate the celestial canvas.